Adding Religion to Your Game
When building a world, one of the big questions that will come up is the question of cosmology: "What is the structure of the universe, and how does it fit into your fantasy world?" With most roleplay games having some supernatural element tied to deities, this leads to the question, "What deities do we have in the world, and how do they all fit together?"
Since Zurn not only has magic that can be granted by divine beings but also a non-magic mechanic for prayers, blessings, curses, religious rites, and words of power to smite a foe, the question of supernatural entities became even more important to answer, and while naturally a game master can create whatever they want, or borrow whatever they like from Earth's history, we thought it would be useful to create a supplement that includes a host of possible pantheons for your use, and that is what we want to share with you today.
I. Religious Devotion: Who or What Do You Serve?
Since my first session as a game master I've been asked about the question of religion. One of my first player characters was an elf priest who wielded light magic, but the player didn't just want to play a spellcaster: he wanted to play a priest. The result was a quest to establish various religious orders (be they military orders like the Knights Templar in Earth's history, or mercy orders like the Franciscans), sects of magic worshippers, nature lovers and animists, and of course a host of pantheons.
With some games, though, the source of your divine power is critical for both story and mechanical reasons, as they have domains and subclasses that are tied to the service of a specific deity. And for these we created a host of pantheons tied to the "domains" of their religion.
You can find a copy of our supplement here, along with other free downloads from the Zurn team on our The World of Zurn page. So if you're looking for other info on the world of Zurn that you can also use in your world, check it out!
The supplement begins with a list of pantheons that are designed to showcase some of the ways that a culture in your world might view the supernatural. Some of them have a standard pantheon of gods and goddesses that govern specific elements of life like war, harvest, childbirth, law, music, medicine, etc.
Others have unique domains that showcase what is important to the culture - in the pantheon of the Wild Men, for example, every god and goddess is a war deity, and how they relate to war depends on their other functions. They are also the only pantheon that I know of where the childbearing deity is male - since he helped in the birth of the great War Wolf that guards their halls, he is the god of livestock and husbandry, but also a god of childbearing generally.
And then you have pantheons like the goblin and gremlin pantheons that are just a riot. So come ready to laugh when you read those.
II. Beyond the Pantheon
Of course, not every religious system centers around a pantheon of deities. Some may worship a magic lore or a style of magic, revering Fire or Darkness or arcane arts. Others may worship magic as applied through a philosophy - the healing and regenerative powers of Earth and Water, for example, working in harmony in nature.
Still others may worship animals or nature itself - not a supernatural or magical power, but the world itself. And thus you will find a host of possible options in the supplement to guide your thoughts and spur your creativity.
We've also included various angelic and demonic classifications and a wide range of clerical offices and vocations. Different people in an order do different things: this is predominately why popes don't fight, feed the poor, or teach people to read - it's not their role, and the order is better off for others filling those roles. And if you have a clerical/holy warrior character in the party, having this laid out for them may help them to take on their character more readily, as they feel like they fit into a larger whole within the world.
We hope that you enjoy them, and that they inspire you to make cool new elements to your world, whether you are a writer, roleplayer, or game designer.
The power of our worlds stems from our creativity, and one of the best gifts a world builder can receive is fresh thoughts to wrestle with that will spur them to greater feats of creativity. We hope that you found those here, and are honored if you did.
We'll be back with another post for one of our ongoing series next, so stay tuned!
Until next time,